The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has finally obtained documents on the Perfect Citizen program, run by the National Security Agency (NSA), which monitors private computer networks in the United States.
This program, which the NSA claims is an effort to increase domestic cybersecurity, sounds much like proposed legislation I reported on in February of 2012 but this is being done without any such authorization, although Obama was reportedly considering the implementation of cybersecurity measures by executive order.
The NSA has increasingly shifted their focus toward cybersecurity and digital communications with the construction of a massive, heavily fortified $2 billion spy complex and a close relationship with Google which we will probably never know the details of thanks to a U.S. appeals court.
The “Perfect Citizen” program was first revealed to the American public by a story published in the Wall Street Journal on July 8, 2010.
The program was supposedly just in the planning stages at that point and would include sensors in private computer networks which would only be activated by unusual activity and wouldn’t constitute persistent monitoring.
However, when the WSJ gained access to internal emails from Raytheon Corp., the contractor awarded the secret contract worth up to $100 million according to sources familiar with Perfect Citizen (though the documents seem to indicate the contract is worth up to around $90 million), it was revealed that Raytheon didn’t see it as such.
One email stated, “Perfect Citizen is Big Brother.” Unsurprisingly, Raytheon refused to comment on the find.
The newly released documents (mirrored here), obtained by EPIC through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, are heavily redacted with large portions of paragraphs removed from many of the 190 pages released by EPIC on January 2, 2013.
The documents reveal the justification for Perfect Citizen, namely, that the “prevention of a loss due to a cyber or physical attack [on Sensitive Control Systems, like large-scale utilities], or recovery of operational capability after such an event, is crucial to the continuity of the [Department of Defense], the [Intelligence Community], and the operation of SIGNIT [signals intelligence] systems,” according to EPIC.
While the NSA has claimed that Perfect Citizen is nothing more than a research and development program when the program was first revealed, the newly released documents paint a different picture.
“The documents obtained by EPIC suggest that the program is operational,” stated EPIC.
Indeed, the documents seem to show a fully operational program even with the great deal of redaction in critical areas.
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